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The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

A quirky and whimsical almost-western, this is an unusual and bittersweet novel which is beautifully written and slowly builds to its poignant climax. Dazzling and moving, it is a very assured first novel and those who want to read the next big thing before everyone else would do well to discover Amanda Coplin now.

If you like Amanda Coplin you might also like to read books by Leif Enger, Shandi Mitchell and Sara Donati.

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The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

At the turn of the 20th century, in a remote stretch of Northwest America, a solitary orchardist, Talmadge, tends to apples and apricots as if they were his children. One day, two teenage girls steal his fruit at the market. Feral, scared and very pregnant, they follow Talmadge to his land and form an unlikely attachment to his gentle way of life. But their fragile peace is shattered when armed men arrive in the orchard. In the tragedy that unfolds, Talmadge must fight to save the lives of those he has learned to love while confronting the ghosts of his own troubled past.


This accomplished debut novel by American writer Amanda Coplin is a powerful and deceptively complex tale of sorrow, yearning and humanity. * BIG ISSUES IN THE NORTH * The Orchardist is a good first novel that bodes well for Coplin's future works. * SUNDAY BUSINESS POST * This accomplished debut novel by American writer Amanda Coplin is a powerful and deceptively complex tale of sorrow, yearning and humanity. * BIG ISSUES IN THE NORTH * The Orchardist is a good first novel that bodes well for Coplin's future works. * SUNDAY BUSINESS POST * The novel, which often has an epic feel to it, brings to life a fascinating era in American history and vividly depicts a unique set of characters to tell a story that includes action and excitement while at the same time exploring the soul of its protagonist. -- Jennifer Lafferty * THE EXAMINER (Ireland) * a tender, rich, earthy novel...Coplin tells this story with a sensitivity to the workings of the human heart that manages to be rich with understanding while hardly ever courting condescension. She knows that there are aspects to human motivation about which, to borrow from Henry James, one should never say one knows the last word. By resisting temptation, Coplin has written a novel that is both wonderfully expansive and sharply focused. -- Matthew Adams * LITERARY REVIEW * The best first novel of 2012 -- Alan Cheuse * CHICAGO TRIBUNE (USA) * Many contemporary novelists have revisited the question of what constitutes a family, but few have responded in a voice as resolute and fiercely poetic. * NEW YORK TIMES (USA) * The Orchardist is a stunning accomplishment, hypnotic in its storytelling power, by turns lyrical and gritty, and filled with marvels. * NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO (USA) * There are echoes of John Steinbeck in this beautiful and haunting debut novel set in early-20th-century Washington State. * ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY (USA) * Why are we born? wonders Della, a question that haunts all the characters. Coplin offers no answers, only the hard certainties of labor and of love that is seldom enough to ease a beloved's pain. Yet the novel is so beautifully written, so alive to the magnificence of the land and the intricate mysteries of human nature, that it inspires awe rather than depression. Superb work from an abundantly gifted young writer * KIRKUS REVIEWS (USA) * His face is pitted, his skin oily, his nose bulbous, his ears elephantine. What gives him a reason to live, his earthly salvation from so many grievous human losses, are fruit trees. This is William Talmadge, the unlikely hero of Amanda Coplin's first novel, The Orchardist, due Aug. 21. Digging a living out of the hardscrabble fields of the Pacific Northwest in the early 20th century, Talmadge is comfortable with his spare, solitary life. But when two feral girls seek refuge with him, he is reluctantly drawn into a crusade and a family. To describe the plot or characters in more detail would undermine one of the many satisfactions of The Orchardist -its surprises. But the soul of the book is its landscape, the avenues of apple, plum and apricot trees that produce not just fruit, but bowers in which to hide, branches from which to drop. -- Cynthia Crossen * WALL STREET JOURNAL * Another debut generating buzz is Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist, a novel set in the untamed American West in the early 20th century. We think this well-crafted tale of a makeshift family whose lives are shaped by love, violence, and an indelible connection to the land is immensely affecting. * PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (USA) * Amanda Coplin's somber, majestic debut arrives like an urgent missive from another century. Steeped in the timeless rhythms of agriculture, her story unfolds in spare language as her characters thrash against an existential sense of meaninglessness. Confronted by the stark reminder of mortality, one responds,

It didn't matter - a weary comment any of them might have made. Coplin's saga of a makeshift family unmoored by loss should be depressing, but, instead, her achingly beautiful prose inspires exhilaration. You can only be thrilled by a 31-year-old writer with this depth of understanding * WASHINGTON POST (USA) * The Orchardist is engaging and enthralling. The reader wants to turn each page quickly as the story develops, and wants at the same time to dwell on the lyrical moments of sunshine, soil and love * SEATTLE TIMES (USA) * There is a strong thread of melancholy running through the novel but it is the great sweep of the landscape that lingers and Talmadge, patiently tending his treasured trees as he watches the world change around him. * BOOKOXYGEN * The first big debut of 2013 - and it's a corker. Set in a remote part of north-western America at the turn of the 20th century, reclusive

William Talmadge has tended his beloved orchard for years. His peace is disturbed by two young girls, pregnant and desperate, needing

help, and his decision to offer them shelter on the farm will prove a brave one when armed men arrive to take the girls back. What unfolds

is a compelling story of survival in harsh times - don't miss * THE BOOKSELLER * Powerful, intense and deeply tender, The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin is set in the American North West at the start of the last century...An original and stunning story by a remarkable new writer. * RED ONLINE * This is a stylishly written debut novel of intense imagery and fine storytelling. * CHOICE * The prose is rich and slow, the book takes its time to immerse us in the lives of the area's inhabitants. It's an immersive experience, about how over years we shape our lives and the lives of those we love and how every action has consequences, good and bad. * WE LOVE THIS BOOK * A beautifully evocative story * MARIE CLAIRE * This is a story about love, often intensely moving but far bigger than your common or garden tear-jerker and gorgeously written...There are echoes of Silas Marner, as the lonely man and the wild girls become an unorthodox family, but the outside world can't be kept out, as strangers on a mission bring violence into this Eden. The writing is vivid and poetic, with a strong sense of emotional wisdom. -- Kate Saunders * SAGA * A powerful moving novel. * WOMAN & HOME * I was still thinking about this moving tale, set in early 20th century America, days after reading it. A reclusive man lives alone until two pregnant, feral girls ask for help. As he lets them in, stories of love, loss and revenge unfold. If you like emotional, historical fiction, you'll love this. * ESSENTIALS * An utterly enthralling, heart-breaking story. * EASY LIVING * Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist is a haunting and epic debut with shades of Steinbeck. * GRAZIA * The Orchardist is a powerful, finely crafted novel. -- Suzi Feay * FINANCIAL TIMES * Amanda Coplin follows the path of American epic naturalist writers such as John Steinbeck in her beautifully written debut, in the way she tracks the movement of communities and examines the relationship between people and their environment...From brooding long over deceptively simple ingredients, Coplin has created a psychologically complex novel of considerable emotional power. -- Rachel Hore * INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY * Coplin's rendering of place invites comparison with William Faulkner's recreations of Mississippi. -- Lucian Robinson * TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT * This is a powerful, wonderfully written first novel. -- Kate Saunders * THE TIMES *

About the Author

Amanda Coplin

Amanda Coplin was born in 1981 in Wenatchee, Washington, a town famous for its orchards. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota and now lives in Minneapolis. THE ORCHARDIST is her first novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

6th March 2014


Amanda Coplin

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Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co


448 pages


Historical Fiction
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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